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French president splits with partner after affair

PARIS--French President Francois Hollande on Saturday told AFP he has split with his longstanding partner Valerie Trierweiler after his affair with an actress nearly 20 years his junior.

The announcement came after a day of rumors in the French media that Hollande would formally announce the rupture on Saturday, on the eve of a visit by Trierweiler to India for charity work.

Saying he was speaking as a private individual and not as head of state as the matter concerned his private life, Hollande told AFP over the phone: “I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valerie Trierweiler.”

Trierweiler, 48, had been convalescing at a presidential residence in Versailles outside Paris after leaving the hospital last Saturday, where she was treated for what was described as fatigue brought on by press revelations of Hollande's affair with 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet.

“I extend all my gratitude to the fantastic Elysee staff. I will never forget their dedication nor the emotional farewell,” Trierweiler said on Twitter Saturday.

She is due to fly to Mumbai on Sunday for a charity trip organized by French relief group Action Against Hunger (ACF), in her first public appearance since the scandal broke two weeks ago.

“Hollande, who took the initiative for the separation, wanted to make it official before Valerie Trierweiler's departure for India,” the Journal du Dimanche weekly said on its website.

Hollande, 59, announced his separation from Segolene Royal, a senior member of his Socialist party and a presidential candidate in 2007, just after she lost the election to Nicolas Sarkozy.

He then started living openly with Trierweiler. Although she is not married to Hollande, she assumed the role of First Lady at official functions after Hollande's election in 2012.

Break-up Lunch

After Hollande's confirmation of the split, Le Parisien daily said on its website that Trierweiler had left the presidential retreat near the chateau of Versailles on Saturday for their apartment in Paris's middle-class 15th arrondissement.

The Journal du Dimanche said the couple had worked out the terms of the split at a lunch on Thursday.

Hollande had promised at a news conference earlier this month that he would publicly define what relationship, if any, he and Trierweiler had before a Feb. 11 state visit to the United States.

U.S. President Barack Obama “looks forward to seeing President Hollande as planned,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told AFP on Saturday, without further comment.

Hollande's announcement comes after a spat between Trierweiler and her lawyer Frederique Giffard, who said Thursday that her client was aware that a “clarification” on her tangled situation was due.

But Trierweiler reacted furiously to the lawyer's remarks and chastened Giffard for speaking without her permission.

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Then-French president-elect Francois Hollande and his companion Valerie Trierweiler celebrate his election victory in Bastille Square in Paris on May 6, 2012. French President Francois Hollande on Saturday told AFP he has split with his longstanding partner Valerie Trierweiler after his affair with an actress nearly 20 years his junior.

(AP)

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